|Date Published||29 December 2016|
Lily escapes with her daughter after eight years in captivity, to find her fight for survival has only just begun.
The horrors of the last eight years should be coming to an end. But emotional scars and a belief that Rick may get away with his crime leave Lily still feeling vulnerable. To make matters worse, her disappearance has destroyed the very fabric of the family she dreamt would protect her and Sky. Her father is dead. Her mother, Eve, has had a succession of boyfriends, and is no longer the woman who takes care of everything. Abby, Lily’s identical twin sister, is a recovering alcoholic and pregnant. And Wes, Lily’s first and only love, is the father of Abby’s child.
The premise of a post-abduction story coloured by a desire for revenge, while not unique, is fresh. I dived in, expecting the tension and uncertainty of a sea-crossing in a storm. Sadly, the plot is a trip across a lake where the far shore is visible from the outset. Even the ‘twists’ are predictable.
Written in the third person, each chapter is loosely devoted to one character in turn, including Rick. For readers who like to see inside the mind of the criminal, the idea is great. Moreover, the regular character changes should move the story forwards. Unfortunately, the mix of too much exposition and long-winded flashbacks has the opposite effect. And a surfeit of melodrama, along with bursts of the writer’s opinion, puts the characters behind a screen.
The turbulent but deep relationship between the identical twins, Lily and Abby, rings true, both from their past as 16-year olds and now as adults. And the story has its fair share of plausible conflicts. But they are resolved too easily and quickly. These fizzling conflicts, along with equally rapid changes of mind, leave most of the characters underdeveloped, in places slightly unbelievable.
Particularly Rick. Being party to his thoughts means his motivation should both fascinate and disturb the reader. Unfortunately, his ‘why’ comes over as convenient and superficial.
For those who want a story that makes them double-check the doors are locked, or for those who crave an insight into the psychology of a paedophile, this debut novel falls short of the mark. But for escapism, Baby Doll provides an easy read that touches on the sordid without too much discomforting detail.
Reviewed 01 April 2017 by Kati Barr-Taylor
Kati Barr-Taylor lives in her ‘cosy pigsty’ in the Dordogne. She satisfies her literary cravings by translating, writing, editing and reading.